Adapted Swimming

For downloadable PDF: Adapted Swimming Guidelines
For screen reader friendly PDF version: Adapted Swimming Guidelines
For downloadable flyer PDF: Adaptive Swimming Poster


The USA Swimming Rules & Regulations allow the referee to modify the rules for swimmers with disabilities in meets. Competition rules for athletes with disabilities would be the same as those for all athletes unless the athlete’s impairment doesn’t allow the athlete to complete the stroke correctly.



  • Notifying the referee prior to competition of any disability and of the requested modification
  • The swimmer or coach will provide any assistants or equipment (tappers, deck mats, etc.) if required


  • Determines if the requested modifications are appropriate and can be met
  • Instructing the starter and turn officials as to the accommodations to be made for the swimmer with a disability
Modification Examples
  • No modifications need to be made to pools or lanes
  • A change in starting position
  • Reassignment of lanes within a heat
  • Allowing the swimmer to have a personal assistant (A personal assistant is not required to be a member of USA Swimming unless acting in a coaching capacity)
  • Stroke/kick modifications
Additional Online Resources

Contributing Authors: USA Swimming, U.S. Paralympics

Guideline Table of Contents
Competition and Rules
State Models


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